Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mr Toad Gets His Way

Hands up if you're stunned by the decision from Cllr Len 'The Motorist's Friend' Gregory to permanently remove the bus lanes from the Tyburn Road.


Me neither.

When those lanes were suspended, in one of the first vandalistic acts of this Tory council, it led to a 15% drop in bus use and an 11% reduction in punctuality on buses using that route (not surprising, really). As it happens, I think that putting a permanent bus lane in on that route was a mistake - a better option would have been a peak-time only lane, as used elsewhere in the City quite effectively. But when that was proposed last year by Labour's Cllr Kath Hartley and supported by Lib Dem Cllr Martin Mullaney (currently enjoying an enforced month on the political sidelines), who also happens to chair the Transportation Scrutiny Committee, it was ignored by the Cabinet Member for Cars.

The best news is that removing the evidence of the bus lanes is going to set us back a cool £250,000 (or possibly more). Shame that Len can't find a few more quid to put right the crumbling state of Birmingham's roads - the £4 million announced a few weeks ago won't touch the sides of the potholes and cracks across our City.

Oddly, though, Birmingham Council will continue to give some car users priority access to the A47 Spine Road. This road suffers from much less peak hour congestion and allows cars with more than one occupant to use the dedicated lane during peak hours. The Tory/Lib Dem council view seems to be, that if you are able to afford a car, then you clearly deserve priority over common bus users.

Perhaps they are merely channelling their heroine, one Margaret Hilda Thatcher, who claimed in the 70s that
'nothing must stand in the way of the great car economy'
and then in 1986, that
'a man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure'
Shame they've not moved on. One of their dinosaurs, of course, is the legend that is Tory Cllr Keith Barton, who knows better than the mass of scientific opinion - claiming that we can't predict the weather three days ahead, let alone forecast longer-term change, or the Tory scientific powerhouse Cllr Len Clark, who has accused the Liberal Left of inventing climate change for political gain.

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